Posts claim their place in the changing communication landscape
Postal Services have always been important motors of economic activity and growth. The very creation of the Universal Postal Union 140 years ago established multilateral framework for the exchange of documents and goods across borders. It helped postal services pave the way to globalized trade and commerce. Today, posts are poised to play a very important role in a new wave of globalization being ushered in by the internet, which calls for greater inclusion of citizens everywhere.
With half of the world’s population living in rural areas, the postal network is well placed to reach them. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 80% of post offices are located in smaller cities and rural areas, where the majority of people live. For postal services to flourish, electrical and internet connectivity is essential, especially in developing countries, where only 32% of the population has access to the internet. The global postal network is a tremendous asset for extending this digital reach-not only for the benefit of citizens and businesses, but also for governments, development agencies and other stakeholders looking for solutions to many of the challenges our world is grappling with.
According to the World Bank, post offices are the cheapest providers of remittance services, ahead of banks and money transfer operators. Posts are also the second biggest contributors to financial inclusion after banks, with one billion people holding postal accounts. And there are new opportunities with cross-border e-commerce. Although this business is still relatively new, global online sales should reach 1.5 trillion dollars by year end. More often than not, online purchases are delivered by the post.
Postal activities stimulate the global economy and improve livelihoods. And, with 640,000 post offices worldwide, we find them where they can make a difference. By increasing post offices’ electrical and internet connectivity, governments can ensure that post offices make a major contribution to efforts to bring communication, financial, social and economic services to rural populations. As the communication landscape evolves, I see an important place in it for posts, especially in this new globalized world. I urge governments to carry on investing in their national postal network so that citizens and businesses continue to benefit from a most essential and affordable public service.
I wish you a happy World Post Day!
Bishar Abdirahman Hussein
Director – General of the Universal Postal Union